HR has a key role in shaping meaningful work and the employee experience – modern HR technology makes room for this vital work
Making work more meaningful has become a core means of boosting productivity, and the role of HR is now first and foremost to support this process. New HR technology facilitates this core task, and companies can no longer afford not to make the needed investment.
The philosopher Frank Martela recently spoke in one of our webinars about the importance of work. He talked of how digitalisation and automation are constantly decreasing the amount of routine work done by knowledge workers, meaning that an increasing proportion of their work requires either abstract and creative thinking or interaction with others. In this kind of work, the quality of the final outcome is often determined by how meaningful the work is for the worker.
Meaningful work brings many other benefits as well, such as boosting the well-being and commitment of employees and reducing absences from work. When there is fierce competition for the best talent, offering meaningful work is an important way to gain a competitive edge.
What makes work meaningful and how can this be supported?
The employee experience can be described using the iceberg model. The tip consists of basic features and processes, such as hygiene standards that are good enough to satisfy all employees. The most important part, however, is at the base of the iceberg – there we find things that are harder to measure, such as the meaningfulness of work, motivation levels, and interactions with other people. It is in the very depths, at the bottom of the iceberg, that the company shapes its competitive advantage and the genuine experience that people will commit to.
When we think about how to develop the employee experience, we too often get stuck with the basic processes. It is easy to use technology to automate these, and this should indeed be one focus areas for business investments. When the basic things are in place, HR and management have more time and resources to focus on the things that are most meaningful for their company’s employees.
Martela spoke of how meaningful work is composed of the same elements as a meaningful life as a whole. A community spirit and good relationships, confidence in one’s own abilities, and the opportunity to make one’s own choices all increase the meaningfulness of work.
HR can support and strengthen all of these. It can create a caring atmosphere in the work community and show the way in terms of how to do good at work by furthering the company’s shared mission and helping customers and colleagues. HR supports employee development and creates an atmosphere of trust in which people have the space to act as they see fit within a framework of shared boundaries.
Transformation requires empathy – and having the right technology
The ever-developing duties of HR professionals are broad and infused with important ethical responsibility. In this context, HR must be able to fulfil its role as an enabler of meaningful work. The present reality, however, is very different: few are able to concentrate on this core task amidst all the routine work that must be done.
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Transformation requires empathy and an employee-oriented management approach in which people’s input is central to increasing competitiveness. If HR truly wants to be person-to-person, the tip of the iceberg must be managed efficiently and with the right technology. When excel sheets or poorly functioning systems are replaced by seamlessly interoperable technology, HR hours no longer get wasted on humdrum tasks.
At Sofigate, we help companies manage the employee experience. We know how modern HR technology establishes the conditions for making work more meaningful. As the work revolution unfolds, this is an opportunity that companies cannot afford to miss. According to a study by Fount 2022, the current situation is that F500 companies are purposefully managing only 5% of employees’ experience of their work.
“We know more about our people, and we support them more than ever – but we have no idea about their experience at work.” (Volker Jacobs, May 2022)